McGrath sparkles in defeat

The Australian Test bowler Glenn McGrath produced the day's best bowling of 4 for 9 as a new English National League season began yesterday, but the paceman could not stop Worcestershire Royals losing by 19 runs against their First Division rivals Yorkshire Phoenix at Worcester.

McGrath sent down six maidens in his nine overs as the visitors were restricted to 151 for 8 off 45 overs. He bowled the England all-rounder Craig White for one and came back to dismiss Michael Vaughan, Matthew Wood and Gavin Hamilton in his first full game for Worcestershire.

But McGrath was out for a duck as the Royals fell for 132 in 43.2 overs. Steve Rhodes made the top score of 42.

Another Australian, the one-day specialist Michael Bevan, reached 52 not out and ran out of partners as the Sussex Sharks collapsed to a 10-run defeat against Gloucestershire Gladiators at Bristol. Kim Barnett's 55 steered the Gladiators to 145 all out in 43.5 overs. But the Sharks slumped to 135, losing their last six wickets for just 10 runs.

In the Second Division, Jason Gallian, with 74, and John Morris, with 50, led Nottinghamshire Outlaws to a four-wicket win over Durham Dynamos with just one ball to spare at Trent Bridge.

England batsmen Graham Thorpe, with 61, and Mark Butcher (47) helped Surrey Lions to a 10-run triumph over Glamorgan Dragons at Cardiff.

Middlesex Crusaders suffered a crushing 60-run defeat against Essex Eagles in a match reduced to 23 overs a side at Chelmsford. Mark Ilott and Ronnie Irani reduced Middlesex to 16 for 7 before they closed at 83 for 9 in reply to 143. Nassar Hussain made 60.

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